At the time it was my own sensitivities that led me to appreciating menstrual cups more than anything else. I didn’t even begin to consider the fact that sanitary products account for most of the sewer blockages in the UK or that a single sanitary pad can contain the equivalent of four plastic bags.
When I found these things out it solidified my love of cups even more.
I was so enamoured with my menstrual cup in the early days of use that I wanted to sing about it from the roof tops. I wondered why I didn’t know about them and wanted every other menstruating individual to know about them too. So much so that I’d bring it up at any ‘time of the month’ opening.
Then I got my first glimpse of why being all cup-happy wasn’t necessarily a good idea.
A family member of mine was complaining to me about her period. “It’s such a nuisance” she companied.
“Dude,” I said, almost arrogantly, “Why don’t you get a menstrual cup. They’re pretty much the best”
“Well I would,” she responded timidly, “But ever since the miscarriage I just can’t handle cleaning up my blood so directly”
And then I felt like an asshole.
This is just one of the many reasons that I have found as to why menstrual cups, although great, aren’t always an option for people.
One of the other reasons really should have dawned on me earlier and yet it too some time – Vaginismus. If you can’t insert anything inside of yourself then of course a menstrual cup is no exception. This was the initial reason as to why I couldn’t personally use tampons. It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Vaginismus would be a barrier to others who had once been in my situation. For such individuals a menstural cup might sound like a dream but also a nightmare (or bitter sweet desire).
Abuse and trauma victims can also struggle with menstrual cups and, again, I’ve spoken to people who this was the case for. Thankfully I became more sensitive to asking why people didn’t use menstrual cups since my first faux pas and so such conversations have been respectful and sensitive.
Not every survivor/warrior feels this way – some like to use menstrual cups to take back control over their bodies, but every person reacts to trauma differently.
Then there are those who are adolescent and simply don’t want that kind of relationship with their body yet, or find it emotionally or socially awkward. Such individuals might eventually learn to appreciate menstrual cups, but this process takes time and shouldn’t be forced on anyone. For such individuals it pays to have additional options, such as fabric pads, sustainable tampons (as much as a tampon can be), or even menstrual underwear.
Then there are those who have just had terrible experiences with a menstrual cup and worry if it’s for them or not.
For the latter group I sympathize but what I will say is that not all cups are created equal.
I have tried some menstrual cups that felt great, contained my fluid (even through vigorous workouts), and just generally felt amazing.
I have also had menstrual cups which hurt to put in and take out, left me in cramping agony during use, and leaked like a mofo.
Everything in between has also been an option.
The important thing here is to remember that what applied to sex toys also applies to menstrual cups: Some will be good, some won’t. Some will work with some bodies, others won’t. And some will be a total disaster but that doesn’t mean that you’re to blame.
You should never blame yourself for a product being a poor fit for you.
Please take that to heart.
Ultimately, I still adore menstrual cups and likely always will. But the sense I once had that menstrual cups are here to save the day for any and everyone are long gone.
Menstrual cups are one solution to a monthly experience for many individuals but they’re just one option out of many.
They may be the preference, environmentally, personally, and for longevity, but it’s not unreasonable that a menstrual cup won’t save everyone’s problems, and I think this is a very important thing to remember if we’re ever going to branch out in to considering and funding other sustainable menstrual products too.